Library filed under Impact on Birds from Vermont
Hutchins said studies conducted on bird collisions with aircraft provide insight to wind energy projects. What they find is that birds can see objects coming at them, but they don’t get the same chance to react with turbine blades turning during high winds at up to 175 miles per hour.
GMP will also continue to follow its certificate of public good which requires voluntary curtailment of turbine operation during calm or nearly calm summer evenings when bats are out hunting. The agreement gave GMP a permit allowing a handful of bats to be killed at the wind project each year, with the understanding that more bats would be saved through the mitigation funding than lost at the wind project.
The Sheffield Wind Energy facility, a 40 megawatt project that went into service in October 2011, released the first season of bird/bat mortality. Total bird fatality estimates for the project site for the entire season was 211 (95% CI: 147, 321), with an estimated 13.17 birds killed per turbine (95% CI: 9.20, 20.05). A total of 87 bats of three species from 1 April-31 October, all of which were migratory tree-roosting bats. Bat carcasses were found at all 16 turbines. The full report can be found by clicking on the links at the bottom of this page.
I am dismayed at how irrelevant data and subjective interpretations are masquerading as science in GMPs proposal. Scientifically based protocols for determining risks posed to raptors by industrial wind facilities have been established, and, it appears, are currently not being used in Vermont.
Massachusetts and Vermont wildlife officials are asking the public to help identify bats affected by a mysterious illness known as white nose syndrome. This time of year, bats are normally hibernating in caves and in abandoned mines across the Northeast. But researchers are getting reports of bats weakly flying around in broad daylight or dying on decks and in backyards.
The statement that the project "is expected to begin moving forward soon" is incorrect, unless the reporter knows something I do not. The Public Service Board's decision is pending this fall but a number of interveners are currently fighting the project before the PSB, including Save Vermont Ridgelines. Should this project be approved, one of the largest bear habitats in Vermont will be destroyed. As this is the first wind project proposed on national forest land, it will pave the way for similar projects in other national forests, such as those currently proposed in Virginia, West Virginia, and Michigan.
Ridge Protectors was an intervenor on the Sheffield Wind case before the Vermont Public Service Board. This petition letter was sent to the US Fish and Wildlife Service in response to the requirement that UPC Wind, the developer, secure a federal permit for wetlands impacts at the site.
The petition basically duplicates the concerns the USFWS raised two months ago. It says that studies at existing wind facilities "have shown high mortality rates for birds and, especially so, for bats. Not mentioned in the hearings nor in any developer studies is the fact that ducks, geese, and other water fowl migrate over these ridge lines and stop over in the wetlands in the Sheffield project area. Threatened species of interior forest birds come north to live here for the warmer months. We are very concerned that their habitat and nesting will be severely interrupted. "Given the political pressure in Vermont and New England to construct renewable electric generation developments, particularly industrial-scale wind plants, we are concerned that otherwise thoughtful biologists and wildlife experts are being compelled to ignore their best judgment," it says. "We encourage you and your colleagues in EPA and the Corps of Engineers to exercise your authorities to the fullest and hope that our state and federal officials will encourage you as well.
This document includes studies in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.
As a general comment, the Service appreciates the fact that UPC Wind has conducted radar and acoustic studies on bird and bat migration and bat activity at Hardscrabble Mountain and other locations at or near the proposed project. We believe the radar, visual, and acoustic information contained in the above-referenced reports is useful, but that it is not sufficient to demonstrate, at an appropriate scale, the spatial and temporal uses of the airspace over Granby, Libby, Barrett, and Norris Mountains by birds, bats, and insects.
Below are two Phase I Avian Risk Assessments reports, prepared by Paul Kerlinger, for Vermont's East Haven Wind Farm (July 2003) and New Hampshire's Lempster Mountain Wind Power Project (June 2005). Phase I assessments have proven inadequate in assessing mortality at several sites in the U.S. including Mountaineer in West Virginia and Meyersdale in Pennsylvania. The US Fish and Wildlife Interim Wind/Wildlife Guidelines calls for multi-year evaluation of avian and bat activity using remote sensing.
ORDER IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED by the Public Service Board of the State of Vermont that: 1. The findings, conclusions and recommendations of the Hearing Officer are hereby adopted, as modified above. 2. The proposed Project will not promote the public good of the State of Vermont, and a certificate of public good shall not be issued pursuant to 30 V.S.A. § 248. Dated at Montpelier, Vermont, this 17th day of July , 2006.
MONTPELIER, Vt. --A company's bid to build a wind farm atop a remote Northeast Kingdom mountain was rejected by the Public Service Board on Monday because of concerns about how the turbines would affect birds and bats.
My viewpoint was, and still is, that the huge towers (260 feet high), gigantic blades (add another 150 feet), blinking strobe lights, permanent removal of wind-hindering vegetation, and highly visible road and transmission infrastructures are totally inappropriate for wild, undeveloped, scenic and highly visible settings. And I said I thought that opponents should focus on those issues, as well as the small return in electricity for the massive public price paid, aesthetically and otherwise, and should perhaps stay away from the issue of bird mortality caused by the rapidly spinning blades. The jury is still out on that, I said, and conventional wisdom is that vastly more birds are killed by high-rise windows and free-running cats......Well, so much for conventional wisdom. Editor's Note This opinion piece was written in response to a letter received from Lisa Linowes that is available via the link below.
In the continuing dialog between Endless Energy Corp. and people interested in the proposed five turbine wind farm, Monday's meeting focused on ecological issues.
But biologists at the Natural Resources Agency were not convinced. They worry that turning blades on the 328-foot-high turbines will kill migrating birds and bats. The wind developers failed to do studies that would allow the agency to conclude the project will not have an undue harmful impact on wildlife, the agency said.
...additional radar studies would be required to see if spring migration patterns are different than those measured in the fall. Typically spring migration is shorter than fall migration with fewer numbers in the shorter period of time. How this will affect the numbers of birds passing through the rotor swept volume is unknown. It is important to determine the seasonal timing, altitude and numbers of migrant birds passing over the proposed project site and the effects of weather upon their passage over a greater part of the whole year. In addition, it is possible to determine some of the bird and bat species passing through the project site by accoustical sensors to determine which species, that make vocal calls, are migrating through the site.